LAHORE: The Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) demonstrated its iron grip over Government Islamia College Civil Lines on Wednesday when members of the student group barged into classes, threatened and detained teachers, and physically forced students to join their protest against the grant of autonomy to public schools.
Students, teachers and the principal of the college told The Express Tribune that the IJT, which is the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami, did what it wanted on campus, particularly at the hostel. “The college faculty is living in fear,” said Principal Dr Asif Mehmood Qureshi.
Students said that IJT activists besieged the college at 10 am, closing all the gates and forcing the students who were attending classes to gather in the grounds. Anyone who resisted or even hesitated to comply was assaulted, they said.
“I was in class in the English department when some IJT activists stormed into the room and told us to join them in the college lawn,” said third-year student Abid. “A few students refused. They were beaten up. The teacher also resisted. He was detained in the room and the students were forced to go to the grounds.”
Inside the grounds, the students heard speeches from IJT leaders declaring the boards of governors at public colleges infidels and calling for jihad against them.
“I did not want to attend but they dragged me to the college lawn,” said first-year student Ziaullah Khan. “It was torture. We were forced to march towards the Secretariat.”
Professor Sulehri was also detained in his classroom. “When they entered my room I told them to leave,” he said. “But they pushed me away and after getting all the students out, kept me there for 40 minutes. The principal and other colleagues rescued me.”
Superintendent of Police (Security) Rana Faisal said Wednesday’s events would be investigated and intelligence at the hostel would be increased.
Sitting in his office, the principal, who took over three months ago, said the faculty feared the IJT and the disciplinary committee wouldn’t dare to expel any IJT student for its actions on Wednesday.
As he was speaking to The Express Tribune, a dozen or so teachers walked in complaining about the IJT and threatening to go on long leave.
Qureshi said he would ask the Punjab government to immediately shut down the hostel, which was the base for the IJT’s “illicit activities”. “If the hostel can be closed we will make the college a co-education institution,” he said. He said that IJT Nazim Numair Aslam Wattoo and his deputy Gibran Butt, who is son of JI leader Hafiz Salman Butt, were not college students but lived in the hostel.
Wattoo denied this, saying he was an MA student in political science. He also denied that the IJT coerced students. “We always respect our teachers,” he added.
Butt, who led the march towards the Secretariat, said he was a third-year college student. He said the IJT’s mission was to “oppose infidels at every stage”.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2010.
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